Monday, November 07, 2011

Jonathan Lethem on being reviewed by James Woods

It's been a little slow around here lately.  I've been working on my review of The Marriage Plot and really taking my time with it - and I'm glad that I have.  It's a better book than I originally thought.

But in the meantime, here's an essay by Jonathan Lethem in the LA Times Book Review on the experience of being reviewed by James Woods.  It's an interesting read - this quote kind of sums it up nicely:

I felt, despite any warnings I should have heeded, that to be reviewed at last by the most consequential and galvanizing critical voice, the most apparently gifted close reader of our time, would be a sort of graduation day, even if I’d be destined to take some licks. Taking some, I’d join a hallowed list. I mean this: I’d have taken a much worse evaluation from Wood than I got, if it had seemed precise and upstanding. I wanted to learn something about my work. Instead I learned about Wood. The letdown startled me. I hadn’t realized until Wood was off my pedestal that I’d built one. That I’d sunk stock in the myth of a great critic. Was this how Rushdie or DeLillo felt — not savaged, in fact, but harassed, by a knight only they could tell was armorless?

Lethem is a favorite of mine.  I've only read two of his novels (Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude) and a novella (This Shape We're In).   In addition, his short story "Super Goat Man" is one of my all -time favorite short stories.  Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence will be released on November 8th.

Update: See our Odds and Ends post for more on the Lethem v. Woods debate

Photo by Flickr user Fred Benenson

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